A biopsy is a medical procedure where a sample of body tissue is removed, and then examined under a microscope and assessed in a laboratory.
Our doctor may organise a biopsy to confirm a possible diagnosis. Biopsies are routinely used to help establish whether cells are normal or not.
Biopsies identify specific cells for structural and functional problems from problem areas and also used to determine how severe an existing condition is.
The test does not involve any special preparation. However, any blood-thinning medications, blood clotting problems and anaemia must be notified to our doctor.
An informed decision will then be made if a biopsy is safe to do for confirmation diagnosis. If your medical history is somewhat ambiguous and other procedures have already been done i.e. CT, MRI, Ultrasound for diagnosis it will be helpful if you could bring the reports of these with you when you attend for appointment.
All organs of the body, including the skin can be examined for anomalies using biopsies. Some are more invasive than others and need to be carried out in a hospital under strict guidelines and aseptically. We can arrange for these privately for you if our doctor or specialist believes this is next step for you.
A hollow needle will be inserted through your skin into the site of investigation to get a sample tissue. The needle is directed to the right place using MRI scans, X-rays or ultrasound scans. A small amount of tissue is then removed. The procedure is typically done together with a local anaesthetic to prevent discomfort or pain. A dull ache might be felt in the area after a sample has been taken. You can take painkillers to address the pain. For more invasive procedures i.e. liver, kidney biopsies an overnight stay in hospital is more than likely to make sure there is no further bleeding and for your safety.
The tissue sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. The sample may be frozen or chemically treated and cut into extremely thin sections, which are put on glass slides and examined under a microscope. A consultant pathologist will then report on the findings.
The result of the test is given after a few days although some cell samples require more time. Our doctor may be able to tell you how long it will take for the test results to arrive.
A local anaesthetic is administered during the procedure for pain relief. If the area is particularly sensitive or difficult to reach and/or if the tissue is dense, you may feel a little more discomfort. The area may also be subject to bruising and swelling after the procedure.
If you have previously had an allergic reaction to anaesthetics it is important this information is told to the doctor. All allergic reactions need to be taken seriously however minor they may initially appear to be. If you are on medications or have taken or take recreational drugs, this must be told to the doctor/technician before the procedure.
Usually a biopsy is recommended to confirm a diagnosis after researching your family(s) and your own medical history. Other methods of investigation may have been carried out. I.e. CT, MRI, X-Rays. and together with these the results of the tissue sample will show the extent of the disease or determine what it is. Once a definitive diagnosis is confirmed a treatment plan will be discussed together with you and medications or specialists arranged for you to help you to recover your health.
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